The Abbot Point Coal Terminal © Tom Jefferson

27 February 2014 — The Environmental Defenders Office has mounted a legal challenge against the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s decision to grant a permit for the dumping of three million cubic metres of dredge spoil from the Abbot Point coal terminal development into the World Heritage Area.

Lawyers from EDO Queensland filed the action today [Thursday] in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Brisbane on behalf of the North Queensland Conservation Council. The legal challenge is being supported by a fighting fund collected from the public by GetUp and Fight For the Reef.

“With GBRMPA, and Federal and State governments determining only last year that the condition of the inshore Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area south of Cooktown is ‘poor and declining’, this decision to allow the dumping of dredge spoil is shocking and bewildering,” NQCC coordinator Wendy Tubman said.

NQCC Abbot Point campaigner Jeremy Tager said the organisation had been working with EDO Queensland for “some time” in preparation for the possible granting of a permit.

“We will now be presenting that case in court,” Mr Tager said.

“We will be presenting on behalf of the community the very best case we can so that the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is less likely to be given an “in danger” listing by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, and will be around to delight future generations.”

GetUp campaigns director Erin McCallum said they had received a massive response from the public on the issue, with over 16,000 people contributing to the fighting fund.

“We’ve never seen anything like this – 16,000 people from all walks of life, fishermen, teachers, farmers and accountants have donated to make this case happen,” Ms McCallum said.

“We originally committed to raising an $80,000 contribution to the case. After an incredible response, with many donations of $5, $10 and $30, we can now commit a remarkable $130,000 to make the case happen.

The contributions will help pay for court fees, expert witnesses and barristers.

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